So in this edition of this little brewski-and-Birds series, I headed south from Lansing to Dunedin to meet and spit words with Bo Bichette. And I’m not gonna lie, I was pretty excited to take my ol’ beat up 1980 cream colour Chevette through the good ol’ US of A in pursuit of finding out just what Bo actually knows. Unfortunately Mother Nature threw your intrepid Hobo — and a whole lot of other people, I should say — a nasty curve ball known as Hurricane Irma.
Let me take you back: After meeting Jesse Goldberg-Strassler and some of the great young sunflower seed spitting Lugnuts, I jumped in my shit box and hit the I-75 S on my way to the sunshine state. This long road felt like it was leading me to nowhere land, but I knew that it would get me where I need to be going. The truth is, though, it wasn’t long before I started to get bit homesick. I missed the brewskis and the Birds, and I hadn’t had a drink in over a day — because we all know, drinking and driving is for bozos. So this Hobo was as dried up as a California raisin and let me tell ya, it wasn’t fun. At times, I’d play around on my shitty radio with some kind of hoser hope I’d come across Jerry Howarth’s voice filling the air with the sounds of baseball and my hometown, but to no fuckin’ avail.
I hit Atlanta on September 8th, and was slowly pushing my Chevette closer to Dunedin when the news hit that Irma was headed straight for South Florida. I decided to take a rest and camp the night in Georgia — which worked out great. I found a great dive bar called the Trackside Tavern that had booze and brewskis. After driving for as long as I’d been, I knew this was the perfect place. I was wearing my Rance Mulliniks jersey, pounding back brews, and shot the ol’ breeze with some damn good American folks. I decided that I should call Dan from Dunedin to check in, since the weather down there was starting to look bleak, and it was a good thing I did. He told me we’d have to cancel the interview with Bo, and that it was best for me to not drive any further.
I was really fuckin’ bummed out — not just about this, but because my Hobo heart went out to all the people whose lives were being affected by this terrible fuckin’ Mother Nature curve ball. I started to get really nostalgic that night in Atlanta, and really missed my country and Toronto. I found a cheap hotel to sleep off the brewskis and woke up early and hit the damn road back to Canada.
It was a long ride home, as the hours passed the way that they always do, but I eventually crossed the fuckin’ boarder to paradise. Hoser Nation. The Great White North. Fuckin’ Eh!
I ended up on the 407 E heading back home, missed Toronto, and after a strange detour down some dusty country roads ended up in some small place east of the city. I really didn’t care because I was back in Canada, ready to watch the final games of our Birds, and drink some good Canadian beer.
I pulled into what looked like this weird sports bar to have a drink and I noticed that on the TVs was this funny sport where people were chasing a little ball around on a green field. There was a stoic British voice intoning some kind of gibberish I couldn’t make out. But “whatever,” I thought. So I walked up to the bar and took a seat next to this bearded guy wearing a fluorescent orange shirt – a Dutch jersey I think — and it just so happened to be Andrew fuckin’ Stoeten with his cider and soccer! So we got talkin’, I told him about this damn trip, and asked him a few questions. Here’s what he had to say:
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If you had to choose between being stuck in a bar with Yankee fans from the Bronx or Red Sox fans from Southie, where you having that damn drink?
Uh… I appreciate the nod to the geography of both cities (even though the Bronx has, like, literally 40 times the amount of people as South Boston, and a bunch of its own neighbourhoods, presumably each with their own unique character), but the question as written feels almost a little too much like it’s asking me which ethnic stereotype I’d prefer to get drunk and watch a ballgame with. I’ll pass real hard on that, thanks. Let’s just go with a more general “Yankees fans or Red Sox fans?” And to that I say: Look, it’s fun to hate on other fan bases, but it’s almost always good-natured — or at the very least should be. We’re all just people and some people are going to be jerks no matter what, but most times, if you’re talking and watching sports, and people are into it and passionate about their team, having fun, not taking themselves too seriously, and you’re in that mood too, you’re going to have a good time. I have friends who like the Red Sox, I have friends who like the Yankees, and it’s fine. We’re all baseball fans. Come on.
That all said, I think it’s probably still more fun to shit on Red Sox fans, so I’ll pick Yankees.
I don’t see ethnic stereotypes, just people and people I can drink brewskis with. But I do like saying Yankee fans from the Bronx and Red Sox fans from Southie, I dunno – it just sounds cool. But OK, next question…
Would you rather go to the Mandarin with Buck Showalter and share a bottle of cheap red wine, or go to an Applebee’s with John Farrell and share a plate of rib-lets and drink a bunch of bahama mamas?
I mean, I suppose I could pick John Farrell’s brain about player development or something. Or try to get him to share his real thoughts on Anthopoulos and Beeston, or what it’s like working with Mark Shapiro. Like, don’t get me wrong, I enjoy his managerial failures, and the Red Sox’ failures, and the failures of his players, and Red Sox fans being upset about stuff, and his tenure turning into a shitshow, and thinking about the team cleaning out their lockers at the end of another failed season season, and him maybe getting fired… but I don’t exactly dry heave at the thought of speaking to him.
Showalter, though, is the far more interesting guy. That answer he gave about Freddie Gray and the unrest in Baltimore a couple summers ago? Actually keeping his job after last year’s Wild Card game? Being a little curmudgeon about the Jays’ playing surface? Just missing out on the late-90s Yankees dynasty? Appearing on Seinfeld? Shit, even he worked with Shapiro for a time — like 90% of people in baseball, apparently. And have you ever read his Wikipedia page? “During his first minor league season with the Fort Lauderdale Yankees he picked up the nickname ‘Buck’ from manager Ed Napoleon because of his tendency to sit around the clubhouse ‘buck naked.'” LOL.
So… yeah, definitely Showalter. Red wine, too.
And the Mandarin, of course, don’t forget about the fuckin’ Mandarin.
OK, so tell me, if some rich dude were to offer you a free round-trip to the World Cup with a VIP media pass to all the games on the condition that you try to get as many fans as possible in the 500 section at the Dome to do the wave at least once in every inning while humming Sweet Caroline throughout the entire game, would you do it? (Cam Lewis will be there to document the whole experience and post clips of it on Twitter without explaining the context behind your actions).
Media pass? No, I’d prefer to enjoy the games.
I’d prefer watching you get people to do the wave while humming Sweet Caroline.
I try not to be human garbage at the ballpark anymore.
You’re the manager of the Birds in a Wild Card game and they are down one run with the bases loaded and Ryan Goins on deck; do you let him step into the box and swing away — or do you get Stroman to pinch hit for him?
When did those guys get traded to St. Louis?
Uhh… anyway, gonna need more information here. Inning? Outs?
Except, actually, either way I go with Goins — if for no other reason than the same dumb reason managers always tend to avoid unorthodox decisions: I’m not about to put myself in a position to get roasted for it if my weird decision doesn’t work out. Nobody would say a word if I didn’t lift Goins for Stroman and it didn’t work out (except maybe that I should have lifted Goins for someone or that I should have managed my bench better). But if I did do something like that and then Stroman meekly popped out? That’d get ugly. (And deservedly so, I’d say.)
They got traded to St. Louis? How long was I on this goddamn road trip for?
Would you rather watch a full season of Grace and Frankie with Steve Simmons – or Season 2 of Stranger Things with Rosie DiManno and I’m talking a full on all day binge here?
Rosie and Stranger Things, hands down. Just as long as she brings the heroin.
Drugs are bad, Stoeten.
Especially those ones.
If the Birds were in the World Series and it was game 7 in Toronto and you got a ticket, but Cathal Kelly just happened to be sitting in the seat next to you when you got there, what would you do?
I’d have a nice chat with Cathal. He’s alright!
I don’t judge a man by his terrible Jays takes. Y’know… anymore. Usually.
I believe you.
But OK, enough of these dumbass scenario questions, let’s get to some hard-hitting ones!
Is fish meat or is fish – ‘fish’?
Whatever anybody wants to call it, man. You ain’t offending the fish.
I think I offended a fish once, but I was a couple sheets to the wind, so I don’t remember.
Were you in St. John’s?
Peterborough has a George Street too, y’know. You don’t want to go to those bars, though. You’re a grown-up, you drink on Hunter Street.
OK? Anyway, moving on, who is more overrated Derek Jeter or Derek Jeter?
Womp womp. But come on here. Jeter was great. Maybe not “let’s pretend he was God’s gift to baseball” great, but consistently one of the three or four best players on some very good teams. And the thing is, I’d dislike the mere mention of his name a whole lot less if I hadn’t heard him get so fucking lazily fawned over for so long.
Hey, but at least Buck and Pat now have Aaron Judge to ruin for us!
Where’s Dan Shulman?
Hopefully finalizing a contract with Sportsnet as we speak.
What’s a better pitch: the Jack Morris forkball, Randy Johnson’s fastball, or Mariano Rivera’s cutter?
Well, OK, who is a bigger asshole: Pete Rose, or A.J. Pierzynski?
How should I know if either one is an asshole?
I like them both.
Let’s not go nuts.
Since you love baseball and you love soccer or football or whatever the fuck it’s called, do you think soccer baseball is a good time too?
I don’t want to shit on anybody’s good time, but I’ve never really seen the appeal.
Soccer brewski baseball is fun. Seriously.
Who has the better stache: Rance Mulliniks or Dave Stieb?
Rance Romance, that’s fuckin’ funny. I’ll drink to that.
If you could get drunk (like you don’t remember a goddamn-thing-there-is-an-empty-bag-of-burgers-beside-your-bed kind of drunk) with any Blue Jay past or present, who would it be?
John Gibbons. And speaking of, John fuckin’ Gibbons is the greatest skip in Blue Jays history. This is not a question. Comment if you will…
At least top five.
John fuckin’ Gibbons is the greatest skip in Blue Jays history. This is not a question. Now, since you’re a man of analytics, can you explain the metrics behind Donald Trump’s hair?
Ashley Feinberg told us all we could ever possibly want to know about that subject last year in an awesome piece at Gawker (RIP). Way to own the Libs, dumbshits.
I’ll drink to that too.
OK, so what stats should be on the back of a modern day baseball card for players and pitchers?
The amount of money, if properly invested, the cost of a pack of cards today will be worth in 25 years.
My baseball cards that I collected in the early 90s aren’t worth shit.
But at least a bunch of people made a lot of money off of little kids!
Do you think sabermetrics have turned baseball fans into assholes — or just assholes who read Fangraphs — or are assholes just always assholes, I dunno?
Is it sabermetrics’ fault that lazy, mediocre dudes get threatened by the fact that after a lifetime of thinking they understand something and feeling it their domain it turns out they might not have all the answers???
(No, it’s not.)
Assholes are just assholes, but lazy mediocre dudes aren’t cool. Actually, ‘Lazy Mediocre Dudes’ was the name of a shitty band I played in, did you know that? Okay, it’s not true, but that would be a cool name for a shitty band, I think.
My next band will be called the Shame Birds — you know, those birds that squawk at you nonstop when you’re walking home drunk at 6 am?
Please don’t steal that.
Fair enough. But alright enough of these hard-hitting thought provoking Anderson Cooper-esque questions…
More like Dale Cooper-esque questions.
Er… actually, just one more: Is Aaron Sanchez turning into the new Al Leiter?
No, Sanchez throws with his right hand.
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So this concludes the third edition of the Hobo In The Park, I want to thank the Dunedin Blue Jays for trying to make this Bo interview happen, but sometimes there are more important things than baseball – so next year! I’d also like to thank Andrew Stoeten for teaching me about soccer and why I should stop trying so hard to dislike it because there is nothing to be afraid of. And for the next edition of this brewski and Birds series, I will be going… somewhere to interview… someone about baseball and the Birds. Where? I dunno, it’s the goddamn offseason! And nothing makes this Hobo sadder than this time of year.
So thanks for reading. And remember kids, stay on the fastball, the rest is all bullshit.